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Are you a little bit obsessed with the workshop in Roubo’s Plate 11? Do you need a new poster for your shop or new wallpaper for your computer screen or tablet? Do you really, really want to see the wood shavings in the foreground and all the stuff leaning against the back wall?
Here’s a higher resolution scan of the workshop for your viewing pleasure: Atelier Roubo
P.S. My test rabbit (thanks, KP) used the scan for wallpaper on his PC and was very happy.
Filed under: To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
Saturday 25th March 2017 This past week I was reflecting on some realities with regards to buying specialist tools and equipment. Hard to imagine, but I do recall walking with a friend in Texas back in 1987 and discussing how the worldwide web would be a place to buy and sell, exchange ideas and become …
For the last 20 odd years I have benefited from regular bouts of insomnia. When they happen, I’ll wake about 4 a.m., roll over and my head will spin with several conflicting images, usually relating to something on my workbench from the past, present or future. For years I tried to get back to sleep when this happened. When Lucy and I had children who were young, we needed every […]
A short while ago a friend of mine was asking my advice about buying a Norris plane. The classic pre war model A5 was what he was looking for, but I persuaded him to go for the Norris A50 instead. It cost him a lot less and worked a dream. He is very pleased.
Here is the Norris A50 that I use. It required the minimum of sole flattening as there was a dip behind the mouth, see the darker area on the sole. I could have continued lapping to remove this but it wouldn't have made any difference to performance.
The mouth (the tiny dark area) is just a sliver, enough to let a reasonable shaving through.
Although this was a budget model by Norris, costing about half of the A5 in the 1920's, it is actually more stable as the iron rests on the metal casting rather than the rosewood infill. With the iron removed (below) you can see the casting with the wooden infill set back slightly so it plays no part in supporting the blade.
The other thing I like is the handle is set very low down, giving a better 'feel' in use.
Of course with a sharpened blade it works a treat....
.... even on this curly English walnut.
My job at Lost Art Press is basically this: wrangling content. I read it, edit it, listen to it, transcribe it, write it, find it, scan it, organize it, cut it, extrapolate it, link to it, contract it and share it. And through this wrangling, no matter the author or topic, universal themes emerge.
Often an 8-5 occupation, by nature of design, is one of repetition. And perhaps that’s part of the appeal of woodworking, both as an avocation and vocation—it requires constant learning, no matter the skill level. There’s always more to learn, new paths to take, ways to improve. There’s a scholarly aspect to it, and always the feeling of the possibility of a new discovery, with only the turn of the page or an afternoon at the bench.
And so I see the theme of lifelong learning emerge, over and over, from masters of the craft, in both written and vocal form.
In many ways it’s why Lost Art Press exists—as well as the many magazines, books, forums, guilds, classes, schools and DVDs that delve into the intricacies of woodworking.
There’s always more to know.
Here are some quotes, both formally written and in the form of snippets of conversation, that I’ve gathered during my more recent content wrangling from a few masters of the craft who still, to this day (or did, until they died) foster a love of learning.
“It’s interesting to speculate as to exactly when in one’s career one writes a book. I wrote ‘Welsh Stick Chairs’ three years ago, but I am still on the learning curve, and I’ve moved on. In theory, I suppose when one is 99, lying on the death bed, then you write about what you’ve learnt. No. I think the important thing to remember is that not all information in print is law, even if you don’t agree with what you read, it should stimulate thought.” —John Brown, Good Woodworking, 1994
“I’ve mainly been doing sculptures and some new chair stuff. I’ve had a great time and want to continue the ball rolling. I also want to further my chairmaking so when I get home I don’t feel I’ve done nothing in terms of my main craft. So I’ve pursued a couple different [ideas], and I’ll see how these things develop and hopefully [they’ll] become a part of what I do.” —Peter Galbert, on life as a resident artist, 2016
“I’ve often said, only sort of whimsically, if you had to distill down my job it would say, ‘Be productively curious.’ I was productively curious.” —Don Williams, on his almost three decades as Senior Furniture Conservator at the Smithsonian Institute, 2017
“For me, it’s really just keeping engaged, keeping really interested into what’s going on because we can never completely know it. And I hate and love that at the same time. I love being in the position of not knowing but maybe going to find out. And so it’s basically about keeping my eyes open and not taking myself too seriously, because nobody else does. And that’s really it. Not taking things personally in terms of interpreting the world as being against me or for me or any of that. I’m just here observing slowly, with my eyes as wide open as possible.” —Jim Tolpin, 2017
“Neither of us are trained designers, bur rather experienced builders with a healthy curiosity. We both began experimenting with the practices and suggestions laid out in the period design guides. We set aside tape measures and began using dividers. We opted to use geometry to trace layouts, even when precision tools were easier and more convenient. Our goals were to learn to see, and to discover if the tradition might reveal relevant information for today’s builder.” —George R. Walker, in his preface to “By Hand & Eye,” May 28, 2012
“There is a point where a craft becomes an art, and he can find enough to learn about woodwork as an art to last him for a lifetime.” —Charles H. Hayward, “Chips from the Chisel,” The Woodworker, 1936
— Kara Gebhart Uhl
Filed under: Uncategorized
Some pages from (Shoshoku ehon) Katsushika shin hinagata, a book by Katsushika Hokusai, 1836. A Japanese plane, square, and sumitsubo, which is like a chalk line but with ink, can be seen in the top photo. The bottom photo shows a Japanese adze and a kick-butt mallet.
(Photos from the British Museum, where you can also find the rest of the book.)
Now that the last bluster of winter is in the rearview mirror, it was a pleasingly and comparatively mild winter, and spring is in the headlights (we hope) it’s time to reflect on the utility of my cast iron bi-fuel stove for the barn. Finally, after three winters of trial-and-error I think I have it down to the point where it is the reliable workhorse heat source I had always hoped for.
To recap, the unit is a smallish British wood-and-coal stove probably of the 1970s vintage. Though smaller than the cast iron fireplace insert for the cabin, it is considerably heavier (the barn stove weighs in at about 525 pounds) due to the need for a firebox that can handle both wood and coal. I went on line to retrieve both the owner’s manual and to view youtube videos on the operations of such stoves. That was not the least bit helpful. In fact, I believe the owner’s manual was written by people who eventually became computer software instruction manual writers; neither had any usefulness for the end user, being written only by and for someone who already possessed full mastery of the “information” contained therein. Of course, it is possible that there is a contextual implication and perhaps those inculcated with the cultural norms of Britain are predisposed to operate such a device.
The stove is not located in the studio, it is in the basement directly underneath it. Thus it requires a long, steady heat in order to get the warmth up to my work space. Following the instructions on youtube served only to frustrate me, and I had to re-invent using this stove myself. Once that was done the use of this heater became a pleasure.
Here is the routine I have devised after scores of attempts, and is one I find to provide steady and constant warmth to my work space. A typical cycle for heating with the stove is 48 hours, by which I mean I can keep it running steadily but must clean out the ashes and clinkers every other morning. It usually requires 1-1/2 buckets’ worth of cleanout.
With the firebox emptied, the building of an effective heating fire can begin.
I begin this process by laying down about a roughly 2″ layer of nut coal as the bed for the fire and the foundation for the roaring heat to come.
On top of the bed of coal I place a single firestarter. If you are sharp-eyed with a good memory, you will recognize the firestarter as a piece of paper towel I used for the final filtering of our beeswax upstairs. I use one new filter for each platter of molten wax, so I’ve got a good (if not excess) inventory of this aid.
Next comes the whole reclusive woodsman skill set in constructing the kindling/firewood conflagration.
Each layer of fuel gets more massive.
Finally the firebox is completely full of dried maple, locust, and oak awaiting a flame.
Then, the flame.
Once the flame is going, I close the left door completely and close the right door to about 1″ opening to maximize the air flow.
10-15 minutes later I check back on the fire to make sure it is doing what I want it to be doing.
If going well, and a this point of my experience it always is, I place the iron fences at the front of the firebox to allow “banking” of the coal throughout the day.
Within a half hour the stove pipe is plenty hot, and upstairs it radiates heat into the shop.
From this point on I add fuel to the fire every hour or so until early afternoon. At the 1-hour point I add about three pieces of firewood along with three scoops of coal, at the 2-hour mark two pieces and four scoops, at 3 hours one piece and five or six scoops, and just after lunch another half dozen scoops of coal with no new firewood. I close the doors both firmly and make sure the flues are wide open (the gates are right behind the ceramic panels in the doors) and can usually hear whistling sound of the combustion air being drawn through.
As I wrap up the day at 6PM I pack the firebox as full as I can with coal, close the doors and tighten the latch, and close the gates halfway. Next morning when I arrive in the shop at about 8.30, the pace is still toasty warm and the fire is glowing red. I do a partial clean-out of the firebox by agitating the movable grates and emptying the ash drawer underneath, and spend the second day just shoveling in coal every few hours.
On even the coldest day of the winter — temps in the teens and nearly gale force winds — the workshop space was a cozy 64 degrees all day long (cozy because I am dressed for winter, after all). On such a day I will use 1-1/2 50-pound bags of nut coal, on a milder day 3/4-1 bag will suffice.
While I am not anxiously awaiting the next winter, I now know I can keep my own workspace cozy and amenable, and I still get to look out at the mountains any time I want.
It can take just one or two successful tries at spray finishing to get why spraying is a great choice everywhere from the home shop to the industrial factory floor. Spray finishing is quite simply a fast, efficient and reliable way to lay down smooth, uniform coatings that adhere well, dry predictably, and require minimal further processing. It also turns out that spraying is easy to learn and not very hard to do well.
Take a look at our Beginner’s Guide to Spray Finishing to learn more and then try it out yourself!
|I bought them all|
What surprised me about both sellers, was how clean the screws were. I usually get parts like this all rusty and ratty looking. These are all rust free and shiny. The slots aren't mangled and the screws all have good looking, well defined threads.
|these 3 are all set now|
|everything has set up|
|removed most of the proud with the chisel - I then planed it flush|
|flushed the walnut to the bottom|
|checked my desk stock|
|lightweight but sufficient|
|ugly even if they won't be seen|
|found a lot of 3/4" screws|
|found a piece of poplar long enough|
|sawing 1/2 x 1/2 notches|
|my senior moment|
|I will have to use a wide piece after I fix this|
|I wanted to use walnut here|
|padauk is another choice|
What is a folivore?
answer - an animal that eats leaves
Over the next six weeks I will be blogging about Handworks 2017 a lot, or at least my preparations for it to be sure. I think we are at T-minus 52 Days before departure.
Over the winter Mrs. Barn prepared two full cases of packaged beeswax in anticipation of the event. If all goes well I will not bring any back home. One thing down, a bazillion to go.
I intend to demonstrate wax and shellac finishing during the event, so come by and say “Hi.” I’ll be in one of the center aisle booths at the Festhall.
Saturday 25th March 2017 So what do you do if a tenon snaps off when you least expect it? Such things happen, after all, and you have already invested good time in the buying and milling wood, forming tenons and even shaping the wood for its place in the whole. I have had it happen …
Today Narayan Nayar and I took the train to Pompeii to look at a fresco that features Perdix, a Roman workbench and some adult content suitable for Cinemax. (“Oh my, I don’t think I have enough money for this pizza.” Cue the brown chicken, brown cow soundtrack.)
As we got off the train, my heart was heavy with dread. Yesterday, our visit to Herculaneum blew my mind but was disappointing in one small way: The House of the Deer was closed that day to visitors. The House of Deer had once housed a woodworking fresco that has since been removed and has since deteriorated. So all I was going to get to see was the hole in the wall where the fresco had been.
So as I got off the train this morning, I fretted: What if the House of the Vettii is closed? After a not-quick lunch that involved togas (don’t ask), Narayan and I made a beeline to the House of the Vettii. And as I feared, its gate was locked. The structure is in the midst of a renovation and was covered in tarps and scaffolding.
I peered through the gate and saw someone moving down a hallway inside. He didn’t look like a worker. He looked like a tourist. Then I saw another tourist.
We quickly figured out that a side entrance was open and they were allowing tourists into a small section of the house. I rushed into that entryway and waved hello to Priapus. After years of studying the map of this house I knew exactly where to go. I scooted past a gaggle of kids on spring break and into the room with the fresco I’ve been eager to see for too long.
It’s a miracle this fresco has survived – not just the eruption of Vesuvius but also the looters and custodian that decided (on behalf of Charles III) which images to keep and which ones to destroy. (Why destroy a fresco? According to the Archaeological Museum of Naples, many were destroyed so they didn’t get into the hands of “foreigners or imitators.”) The royal collection preferred figurative scenes or ones with winged figures. For some reason, this one stayed in place and has managed to survive.
Narayan spent the next 40 minutes photographing the fresco in detail. The photos in this blog entry are mere snapshots I took with my Canon G15. His images will be spectacular.
OK, enough babbling. I need some pizza. Thank goodness they’re only about 4 Euro here.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
Just a heads up in case you're in the market for a Crisscross Solo and you're coming to Handworks.
We'll have a few blems available at the event for a discount price of $79. We usually don't have to offer blems or seconds because we usually catch them early on in the process. This time a few Crisscross arms made it all the way through powder coating. Here's the issue with these. During the casting process the moulds get transported from the mould-making area to the pouring deck and every now and then a mould gets jarred and makes the lines in the castings you see above. It's completely cosmetic. The arms function as intended. A few of the arms got the royal treatment at the powder coaters as well. The middle one above shows the result. You may need to run a file or drill bit through the holes to get the pins to pass. These will be priced at $79 and are available only at Handworks. If we have leftovers, we'll post them here for sale after all the hubbub is over.
I’ve been slowly working my way through a pile of cherry spoon wood. All but one or two of this batch is from the same tree. And most all are crooks, bent/curved sections which lend the spoons their shape.
A couple of these got picked by people on a waiting list for spoons. I never intended there to be such a thing, but sometimes I get requests between postings of spoons for sale.
spoons listed are here https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-for-sale-march-2017/ or at the top of the menu on the blog’s front page. Leave a comment here (the page for some reason doesn’t accept comments…) if you’d like to order a spoon. Paypal is the easiest way, or you can send a check. Let me know which payment method you prefer. The price includes shipping in the US, otherwise, we’ll calculate some additional shipping costs.
All the spoons are finished with food-safe flax oil. If for some reason, anyone is not happy with their spoon, just contact me & we can do a return/refund.
thanks as always,
Below is an advance of my editor’s note from the May/June 2017 issue (which mails to subscribers April 12 and is on newsstands April 25). I want everyone – subscriber or no – to know that we welcome queries from any and all woodworkers, and that I’d love to see more diversity in our pages. But it’s a two-way street. I’m about to break a self-imposed rule about keeping “politics” […]
I nixed getting the VA supplied stand up desk version because it won't work for me. It will elevate the monitor and keyboard/mouse up and down but that is it. There is no provision for working on paperwork at the same time at an elevated position. If all I was doing was computer work this would work. But over half of what I do doing the day is dealing with paperwork first and then feeding all that into the scanner and onto the computer.
|oh dark thirty sunday morning|
This will go into the wood pile to be used from something else. For the desk it's use is toast and I'll buy another 2x4 sheet of plywood.
|monitor base frames|
|blurry pic of a proud tenon|
|possible big desk base stock|
|flushed and cleaned up the frames|
|the monitor base top|
|trimming the first two pieces flush|
|not a problem now|
|cutting and fitting the last two walnut strips|
|quick, easy, and I got a clean edge|
|the proposed bracing|
|two pieces of 3/4" plywood|
I went through every single piece of both of these plywood bins and I only found one flat and straight one in each. The one I bought yesterday came from Lowes and I don't remember if I checked it for being flat. I was more interested in getting a nice grain pattern. I got that but a pretzel for a board.
|the top brace details|
|flush fit on the through dado|
|labeled the bottom|
|wee bit off on this side|
|I have a boatload of planes|
|rounding over the corners on the monitor top|
|the 3rd one|
|I had striped walnut|
|removing glue with a carbide scraper|
|marking for the brace|
|now it's square|
|used a story stick|
|kept things from dancing around as I sawed|
|the moment of truth|
|too snug for me|
|the last of the walnut trim pieces|
|left it proud on this side|
|flush on this side|
|proud on this side|
What were the first names used by Sir Arthur Doyle for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson?
answer - Sherringford Holmes and Ormond Sacker
Just when you think we know everything about gaming tables, more information surfaces. I was at the preview of a local auction house when I came across this rather chunky example:
Georgian Game Table
Description: 19th century, mahogany, mahogany veneer, oak secondary, unusual dual hinged top with storage compartment, gate leg, cabriole legs with pad foot.
Most game tables have some style or elegance, not this one.The heavy apron and the graceless pad feet lack a pleasing aesthetic.
But that’s not why I called you here.
It is a four-legged table with the fourth leg being a traditional gate leg:
Note the sprung hinge on the right side. This is important.
The hinge is still sprung. Also note the screws on the lower table surface.
What caused the crack? The lower table section is hinged to the frame covering the storage below:
This isn’t the only design challenge. If one tries to access the storage area with the table closed, the sections stacked, when the sections are opened beyond around 30°, the table falls over. Empirically determined. The table is not very deep and when the weight is shifted too far to the back, bad things happen. If I recalled my vector analysis, I could calculate the tipping point.
I did not bid on this table.
On a more positive note, I found two examples of another method of table support. I reveal to you the extension gaming table:
I found the above at the Raleigh Antiques Extravaganza.
A few hours later I found this one at a Raleigh consignment shop:
On the back rail was this label:
The dealer believes that these tables are from the 1930’s. A search for the patent shows that Patent 2,153,262 was granted April 4, 1939. There were simple practical and novel improvements in extension tables in Patent 2,316,448 on April 14, 1943.
I couldn’t find much on the Big Rapid Furniture Mfg. Co. of Big Rapids, Michigan other than by their own admission they are Manufacturers of Medium Priced Furniture. They obviously survived beyond 1939.